During tests in the dusty little town

the history teacher stood at a window,

absorbed in the trees, hands in pockets,

talking to himself, silently guffawing,

body shaking merrily, head thrown back


The local cognoscenti knowing him only

from the dull shack off Main Street

rumored he retold himself the dirty jokes

he regaled to boozers on other bar stools


The girl in the first row by the windows

had no theory at that time except to wonder

if he was a lonely man keeping his own company,

a lonely man with a sense of ribald humor

a bit too bawdy and a tad rare there


Out of college, married and divorced, that girl,

an English teacher in an large inner city school,

debated with herself if his self laughter might

instead have arisen from a rare understanding

of irony, its pleasures and downsides


When she encountered distinguished bums

on busy sidewalks chuckling, gesturing,

snorting at the nuances of puns and double entendres,

she felt an impulse to shout, “Mister Kilgore!”


She tried that once, only to discover the gentleman she stopped

knew nothing about the Crimean War, the Holy Roman Empire,

European imperialism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East

He only knew a bit about God and Napoleon

and kindly asked if she could find a coupla’ coins

for a cuppa coffee and a piece of pie